Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Hazelnuts Are Blooming!

 There was no mistaking the wee red sprouts poking out of a bud on a hairy twig:  here was the female flower of American Hazelnut.  The male catkins, which look like small tan caterpillars, have been dangling from the shrubs all winter, but the tiny female flowers wait until spring to emerge.  It takes some peering to find them, though, because they are so small.  A magnifier helps, as my friend Ed Miller demonstrates. 

Ed and I and a few other friends from the Thursday Naturalists enjoyed a very pleasant walk today through the Hundred Acre Woods, a nature preserve in Malta with nicely maintained wood-chip trails and professionally constructed staircases and bridges to ease our passage through the woods and up and down hills and across the little streams.

At one point, though, Ed encouraged us to abandon the trail to explore a creek bottomland, searching for Leatherwood and Spicebush.   We found lots of Leatherwood -- all of it browsed of its buds by deer -- but not a sign of Spicebush.

We had to walk carefully to avoid treading on multitudinous plants of Skunk Cabbage, its tightly furled leaves shooting up like spears from the muddy ground.

Here's another sure sign of spring:  the silky, furry catkins of Pussy Willow.  The cork is out of spring's bottle now, and the explosion of flowering plants is about to begin.


June said...

Thank God...

threecollie said...

EVen the very earliest tiniest signs of spring are worth a great big grin!

Ellen Rathbone said...

I wonder if the kids who bought my house left the hazelnuts and pussywillows I planted. HM.

Impressive staircase and walkways! They must have some good funders!